melungeon voices

a film by
Julie Williams Dixon
and Warren Gentry

Melungeon Voices DVD


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Combining interview footage with many of the leading Melungeon researchers, as well as direct descendants from the earliest known Melungeons, the film offers a rich and well-rounded look at this controversial subject. The filmmakers traveled up the ridges, and back into the ‘hollers,’ meeting the  Melungeons on their own ground.  Along with modern day Melungeons talking on the porch of a cabin, at their kitchen tables, or out front of local churches, the film intersperses intriguing archival photographs with haunting scenes of mists rising from the mountains and clouds passing over worn headstones.


This 2007 documentary is 56 minutes long. It provides an overview of the work of Dr. Brent Kennedy, who's 1994 book Melungeons: The resurrection of a proud people launched what some have come to call The Melungeon Movement.  

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Floyd and Maggie Nash - considered by some to be Melungeon

About the Film

Shrouded in mystery for hundreds of years, the Melungeons of Southwest Virginia, and East Tennessee, have oral traditions claiming Portuguese ancestry, though academicians have traditionally written them off as a 'tri-racial isolate.'  Living deep in the Appalachians, some claim these people were here as early as the late 1500s, and might  be descendants of Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish soldiers and sailors who intermixed with Native Americans.  Others lambaste this theory as simply “a cover story for African heritage.”  In this film we follow Dr. Brent Kennedy’s search for his ancestor’s true ethnicity, and see how his theories set off a firestorm of controversy.  Part genealogy, part genetics, part geography, the story of the Melungeons is ultimately a story of how divergent cultures banded together to survive in the earliest days of America. 

This documentary film was 7 years in the making. The story of the Melungeons may have you questioning everything you ever learned in history class.


The film has been seen by hundreds at genealogical conferences and historical societies, twice playing to standing room only crowds at the National Genealogical Society's annual conference. It's also been used in high school and university level classrooms. 

The film had moderate success on the festival circuit at a regional level, including being chosen  as Best Minority film at the Southern International Film Festival in Johnson City, TN.  

Here's an example of the kind of "Awards" that really matter . . . and you can find more under Reviews.

Dear Julia,

I wanted to write and tell you how much my mother and me enjoyed your film" Melungeon Voices" The film you've put together was the highlight of the whole meeting.... My Mother just found out a few months ago that her family was Melungeons.... They lived on the Clinch River at Copper Ridge in Hawkins County and Roane.   Your film was so easy to understand. She is 80 years old and she knows her heritage now and is so proud . . .  " 

from Pam Stephens, in Kentucky

The Filmmakers

Julie Williams Dixon hails from the mountains of southwest Virginia and grew up hearing about Melungeons. "They were described to me once as a kind of Indian that keeps to themselves."  Turns out she went to high school with them, and lived down the street from them, and might be one.  You'll have to watch the film to find out. She studied filmmaking and TV  production first at Virginia Tech and later at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Emmy Award winning Director of Photography Warren Gentry lensed most of the film, and field audio and mixing was the work of Kenny Conyers.  Producer/writer Julie Williams Dixon co-edited the film with Warren Gentry.  Other crew included Videographer David Tyson, and audio tech Jim Goodwin.

You can find out more about Warren Gentry's recent work at

Find more about Julie Williams Dixon's recent work at

Scenes from the 2015 Melungeon Heritage Association Union

Would you like to know more? Attend a Union!

Each summer the MHA holds an annual Union in late June.

Contact us if you are interested in showing the film at a gathering.